KDP, PUK clash over parliamentary election timing for the first time

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region — A week ago, Masoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), stated that they had been trying to hold parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan Region for two years, but were hindered from doing so. The KDP media is now explaining Barzani’s statement, attributing the obstacle to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) which has impeded the conduct of elections during this two-year period.

In late 2022, just a month before the Kurdistan parliament’s term was set to expire, both the KDP and PUK voted to extend the parliament’s tenure for an additional year. However, the decision was later overturned by the Iraqi Federal Court.

Since then, the main ruling parties, the KDP and PUK, have been engaged in ongoing debates regarding the feasibility of holding elections. As always, they continually accused each other of obstructing the electoral process.

For the past two years, the KDP has claimed readiness for elections while citing the PUK as an obstacle. Now, the PUK is prepared, yet the KDP has decided not to participate.

For the past 23 years, all elections in the Kurdistan Region have been conducted through mutual agreement between the KDP and the PUK. However, for the first time in the history of the Kurdistan Region, the parties have failed to reach an agreement on the election date.

For the first time in Kurdistan’s electoral history, the conduct of elections, electoral regulations, and oversight are no longer under the control of the KDP and PUK. Instead, the Iraqi government and the Federal Court will determine these matters.

The KDP holds the belief that this situation is not conducive to its interests and is unwilling to engage in an election where it has no involvement in its management.

On the other hand, the PUK views this as a historic opportunity to diminish the influence of the KDP within the Kurdistan Parliament and reinstate a sense of balance, with the aim of partnering with the KDP in government formation and governance of the Kurdistan Region, reminiscent of the post-1990s era.

The PUK regards the initiatives it has pursued via Baghdad as internal endeavors involving both Kurdish and Iraqi parties. However, the KDP labels them as external schemes, asserting that local parties are engaged in their implementation, a stance deemed unacceptable by the KDP.

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